MCCONNELL JOINS SPIETH ATOP FOOTJOY INVITATIONAL LEADERBOARD AT 8-UNDER-PAR
Werenski in third at 7-under-par at Sedgefield Country Club
GREENSBORO, N.C. â€” Ian McConnell of Riverview, Fla., played a round of 3-under-par 67 Thursday to tie Jordan Spieth of Dallas, for a share of the lead at 8-under-par 202 after three rounds at the FootJoy Invitational.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the FootJoy Invitational is a 72-hole stroke play event being held at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C. The 99-player field features golfers from 25 states and 10 foreign countries. The field includes 28 players who have already signed National Letters of Intent to play in college as well as 25 Rolex Junior All-Americans. Home of the PGA TOUR's Wyndham Championship, the par-70 course is being played at 7,118 yards. Past champions of this event include Brian Harman, Daniel Woltman, Andrew Yun, Peter Uihlein and Cameron Peck. After Thursday's third round, the field was cut to the top 60 and ties.
McConnell said his round of 67 Thursday gave him a personal first in addition to vaulting him to the top of the leaderboard.
â€śI'm hitting the ball probably as good as I ever have in my life,â€ť McConnell said. â€śToday was my first-ever bogey-free round in a tournament, so that feels really good to get that one out of the way finally.â€ť
Even though he knew he was gaining on Spieth throughout the day, McConnell said he mostly wasn't thinking about catching the leader.
â€śI was pretty much just trying to play my own game; get in as low as I could,â€ť McConnell said.
â€ś8-under was kind of the number I was looking at after [No.] 15â€¦just par the last three, especially after I bogeyed 17 yesterday.â€ť
While McConnell slowly but surely made up ground on Thursday afternoon, Spieth was treading water.
Spieth, who finished tied for 6th at this event last year, closed at even par for the day after carding three birdies and three bogeys. Most of his action came during the last four holes.
After stepping to the teeing ground at No. 15 with a one-stroke lead over McConnell, Spieth bogeyed the par-5 hole, and McConnell sank a birdie. That combination of events deprived the Texan of the lead for a short time.
However, Spieth roared back with birdies on Nos. 16 and 17, which combined to restore his lead as the group moved to the tee at No. 18. The sole lead was short-lived once again, as a Spieth bogey and a McConnell par resulted in a tie at the end of the day.
Afterwards, the 2008 first-team Rolex Junior All-American seemed determined to play aggressive on Friday.
â€śI'm gonna fire at everything,â€ť Spieth said. â€śI let up today having a three-shot lead. I've let up before being in the lead and giving it back, and I need to just fire at the pins like the first two rounds.â€ť
Richard Werenski of South Hadley, Mass., is in third at 7-under-par 203, and Jim Liu of Smithtown, N.Y., is fourth at 6-under-par 204. Justin Thomas of Goshen, Ky., Tom Lovelady of Birmingham, Ala., and Anthony Paolucci of Dallas are tied for fifth at 5-under-par 205.
The American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf.
The largest Association of its kind, the AJGA has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of more than 5,000 junior golfers from 50 states and more than 30 foreign countries.
Titleist, the AJGA's National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association's success since 1989. Rolex Watch USA, which is in its third decade of AJGA support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2007, after 12 years of support, Polo Ralph Lauren became the AJGA's second Premier Partner.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. More than 200 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 350 wins. AJGA alumni include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink, Davis Love III, Cristie Kerr, Pat Hurst, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lncicome, Morgan Pressel and Julieta Granada.
Final round tee times for the FootJoy Invitational will run from 7 a.m. â€” 10:20 a.m. off the No. 1 tee at Sedgefield Country Club. For more information, please contact Tournament Headquarters at (336) 299-0744.